Ed Arzouian seems to believe that the Montreal Gazette is on the wrong track to promoting itself. And in its current effort, Montreal’s only English language daily is actually doing more harm than good to itself. I agree.
I have taken Ed’s excellent piece on the efforts of the Montreal Gazette to become more “Francophone friendly”, and have enhanced it somewhat with my own editorial opinion . . . Howard Galganov.
On the front page of the Saturday edition of the Montreal Gazette, November 30, 2002; literally on top of the masthead, we find a huge colour picture of Veronique Cloutier.
Who is Vero you ask? Unless you watch TVA, one of three French language Quebec televison networks, you wouldn’t know.
Her father, Guy Cloutier, is the agent who launched the career of René Simard. And like Cloutier’s daughter Veronique, René Simard is a big star in French Quebec. But that’s about it.
Under Ms Cloutier’s picture is a big headline about a poll which isn’t news, “ADQ still in full flight”. I guess news of the ADQ, a soft Separatist, Québécois nationalist political party, is also supposed to attract French speakers to read the Montreal Gazette. It won’t.
If the Québécois want to read about their politicians, they can do so in Montreal in their choice of three French dailies. They don’t need the English language Montreal Gazette.
What we have here is the most obvious type of pandering in a completely vain attempt to attract a Francophone readership that will never, I repeat, NEVER buy the Montreal Gazette.
Does anybody in their right mind think that one Francophone reader will pick up the Montreal Gazette because Vero’s picture is in the top left corner of the front page?
Please: everything any Francophone could ever possibly want to know about Veronique Cloutier has already been written in Le Journal de Montreal, Lundi and Sept Jours, and the supermarket weekly tabloids and magazines, which every Québécois household buys simply out of habit, like buying a lotto ticket. The English speaking community DOES NOT CARE!
On the front page of the entertainment section beside the “big” story on Veronique, is a story about Québécois rocker Jean Leloup: simply more pandering. I have many friends here on the Plateau Mont Royal who listen to Jean Leloup, and none of them; not a one, would be seen in public buying the Montreal Gazette. And not one English kid in Pointe Claire will buy Leloup’s CD.
I don’t make this stuff up. This whole plan to make the Montreal Gazette more “Francophone friendly”, was launched by “Anglos” living in the West Island, who think they know their French neighbours. Thinking, and really knowing are not one in the same.
It is more likely that the machinations of the Montreal Gazette to attract a French speaking readership, will do more to distance itself from its core readership of English speaking Montrealers, who by virtue of their ongoing exodus out of the province is already a diminishing market. Why exacerbate it?
Therefore; if I was the decision maker at Montreal Gazette, I would be far more interested in making a concerted effort in keeping the readership I already have, opposed to making them feel unwanted. But I am not the Montreal Gazette’s decision maker. And I am certain they will continue upon their own path to readership perdition. It’s all just a matter of time.